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25 Dec 2008

Anonymous speech doesn't require forgery Email

In September the long strange Jeremy Jaynes spam case took its most recent twist when the Virginia Supreme Court reversed its previous decision and threw out the state's anti-spam law on First Amendment grounds. The state is currently preparing one final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and interested parties are preparing their briefs. I recently reread the decision, and was struck that the court's analysis depends on a severe misunderstanding of the way that e-mail works.

On page 22 of the decision, the court wrote:

because e-mail transmission protocol requires entry of an IP address and domain name for the sender, the only way such a speaker can publish an anonymous e-mail is to enter a false IP address or domain name.

It went on to say that we have a long First Amendment tradition of protecting anonymous political speech, but the law's blanket prohibition of false routing information would prevent such speech, so the law fails on First Amendment grounds.

But that's just not true, as I was recently reminded when the political spam below landed in my mailbox. I can guess that I probably got it because I'm well known to be a Unitarian Universalist, but I don't know who uses the nom de plume "Al Walp". The headers on the message (not reproduced here because it's already too long) are 100% accurate. The message really did come from Yahoo, from the account The transmission headers are also entirely accurate, and report that the message was orignally sent from IP address That's the Mentor, Ohio, town library, where there is a public WiFi hotspot that the sender presumably used to log in and send the message. This message is just as anonymous as a paper flyer dropped on my front porch; unless someone happened to notice the sender sending it, there's no way to tell who it was.

I hope the briefs to the US Supreme Court make this clear--it's quite possible to send mail with no identifying information, which is not the same thing as sending it with false identifying the information. The former is what the First Amendment protects, the second is what the Va. law forbids, but they don't conflict.

(The odd formatting and extra punctuation are all in the original
From Tue Dec 23 19:09:53 2008
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2008 16:09:22 -0800 (PST)
From: AL WALP 
To: "" 
Subject: Has__the__right__wing__hi-jacked__the__Democratic__Party_?
President-elect  Obama  picked  three 
hawks  for  his  foreign   policy   team
that  some  say  will  continue  
President   Bush's   foreign   policy :
   Hillary   Clinton:    Secretary  of  State,
   Robert  Gates,  Secretary  of  Defense,
   James Jones (Major General, Ret.),
            National  Security  Adviser.
(;  Dec. 2, 2008)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Should   Hillary   Clinton  become
    our  Secretary  of   State ?
1.  She has poor judgment -- demonstrated
by her vote  (with  some  other  Democrats)
in  the  Senate  to  support   President
Bush's   "pre-emptive"  war  in  Iraq    .
Apparently  she  has  changed
her  mind:  She  now  says  there's
no  reason  that  US  troops  should
be  in  Iraq  "beyond  today,"  but
conceded  that  she  might  keep
combat  troops  in  Iraq  for  years,
under  the  following  conditions:
1. to continue  operations  to
    counter  terrorism;
2. to  counter  Iranian  influence;
3. help  the  Kurds;
4. protect  the  US  embassy in Iraq;
5. train  the  Iraqi  military  forces.
(;  June 6, 2008)
During  her  campaign,  she  made
many  misleading  statements; says that her statement,
"Obama' s  health care plan would
impose a $900 hidden tax on families,"
is  so  misleading  as  to  be  close  to  
an  outright  falsehood.    Does  she
have  the  caliber  to  be  a  diplomat? 
She spent two years of her campaign
to prove she's an "Iron Lady ready to 
handle 3 AM  phone calls",   but she
was  surprised:   the phone call was
the economy,   not national  security.
(;    Dec.1, 2008)
During her campaign she said she
went to the 1995 UN Fourth World
Conference on Women,  but the
Chinese  didn't want her to come.
Contrary to her claim,  the Chinese
wanted very much for her to come
but didn't like the speech she gave..
They disliked it so much  that  they
blacked  it  out  to  all  Chinese,  
except  5,000  Party  members.
(;   Dec. 5, 2007)
It appears that she has lost all
credibility  with  the  Chinese  
government.  What affect will her
loss of credibility have on future
relations  between China and USA.?
2.  She sought the endorsement of
Richard  Mellon  Scaife,  a staunch 
conservative, shortly  before the
primary  election in  Pennsylvania.
He  endorsed  her  in   April   2008.
This  action  raises  the  question:
   Is  she  conservative  or  liberal ?
Who   is  Richard Mellon Scaife ?   
According to,
he's a principle owner of, 
and an heir to fortunes in  aluminum, 
banking  and   oil;   he   underwrites
numerous conservative and  Republican
causes -- including the "Arkansas Project" 
(designed to expose the
Clinton scandals)   and  Joseph Farah's 
Western  Journalism  Center,
before  he  funded
Scaife   also  funded :  
Free Congress Foundation (Paul Weyrich), 
GOPAC (Newt Gingrich),
Heritage Foundation, 
Judicial   Watch     (Larry   Klayman),
Landmark  Legal Foundation  (Mark Levin),
Media Research Center (Brent Bozell),  etc.  
Scaife's  net worth  is  about
$1.4 billion, making him one of
the richest men in the U.S.    
The Washington Post characterized
him as   "the   funding   father   of
the   Right."  The  2008 edition  of
FORBES 400  put  him   in  the
"Relentlessly   Rich"   category.
Why has Hillary sought such an
endorsement?  How  can  she
represent   the  views  of  the
average  American ?
Has the radical right hi-jacked
the Democratic  Party?  Is this the
end of our two-party system?
Is  our  democratic  republic
being  transformed  into
a  one-party  state?
3.  Bill  Clinton,  using his Clinton
Foundation,  enlists  corporate
and  private  help to  tackle
concerns  from  AIDS  to  childhood
obesity.  The Clinton Global Initiative
has more than  570  commitments
worth  $10 billion,  involving  more
than  1,000  organizations  that
target  100  nations.
He  is  doing  exemplary  work  and
is  acting  as  a  positive  force
for  the  United  States,   but  his
activities  will  undoubtedly create
many conflicts of  interest   if
Hillary  becomes  Secretary  of  State
in  2009,   according  to  Sharon
Theimer  (Associated  Press):
(a)   The Clinton foundation
revenues  in  2007  were 
Important  donors  are:
 Aus Aid  $10-25 million;
 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
                $10-25 million;
 Haim Saban, media investor,
                $ 5,000,000+; 
 Taiwan's economics office,
 Dubai  foundation,
 Kuwait,  Oman,  Qatar,
             $1,000,000+ each;
James  Murdoch,
               $ 500,000;
News Corporation
Walid Juffali  (Saudi billionaire),
Indian Industry Confederation,
Lakshmi Mittal (Indian steel),
Victor Pimchuk  (Ukraine oligarch),
Denise Rich (former wife of Marc
Rich who got a controversial
pardon in 2001 from Bill Clinton,
According  to  the  book,
Freedom  in  the  World 2008,
by  Freedom  House,  
(pp. 879-880),  
many of these 100 nations are
"not  free"  or  "partly free."   
Will  Bill  Clinton  return  funds
from  such  nations  because  of
the apparent conflicy of interest ?
(b) The
received money from a  Chinese
internet  company that  posted
a  "MOST  WANTED"  message
online  for  the  Chinese
government  that  sought
information  on  human  rights
activists  who were  involved
in  demonstrations   in  Tibet..
Do  the  Clintons  not  consider
human  rights  when  they
make  investments?
(c)  Bill  Clinton invested in a
Brazilian  company  that  produces
ethanol  from  sugarcane -- the
company  employs workers under
degrading  living  conditions.
Do  the  Clintons  not  consider
working conditions of employees
when  making  an  investment
in  a  company ?
(d)  Bill Clinton and Frank Quistra,
a  Canadian  tycoon,  traveled  to
Kazakhstan  and  met  with  its
president.  A  short  time  thereafter,
Quistra's company  received
agreements  with  rights  to  buy
into  uranium  projects  controlled
by  a state-owned  enterprise.
Do  such  dealings  not  involve
a  conflict  of  interest ?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1.  Please  contact  the  two
U.S. senators  in  your  state.
On  the  web  page   at,
in  the  top  right  corner,
click  on  the  box  
"find your senators"
to  get the phone numbers
or  web  pages  of  your
Ask  your  senators   NOT
to  confirm  Clinton  as
Secretary  of  State.   
 2.  Please forward this message
to  your  friends  and  relatives.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =To  remove  your  address  from
 this  list:
and  put  the  word   DELETE 
in  the  subject  line.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

  posted at: 17:53 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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